You’re invited… To a brand-new sculpture park at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens’ Grade 1 listed grounds, in Lower Beeding near Horsham. A launch exhibition by celebrated South African artist Anton Smit | South African Sculptor whose work is inspired by poetry and faith, will feature a series of sculptures positioned by the artist himself to make the most of the views and create new vistas across the valley and the seven (yes, seven!) lakes.
Read on to find out more about Anton Smit’s Walk of Life exhibition at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens…
You can already view 50 of Anton Smit’s sculptures, known for their sense of movement and life, throughout the 240-acre Leonardslee estate. By mid-September, a further 38 sculptures will be added. The grounds, woodlands, and lakes at Leonardslee are the perfect setting in which to display these magnificent sculptures, some of which are monumentally large. As you walk along the tranquil, winding paths each sculpture seems to reach out to you with their raw earthy power. Will you be moved by Crouching Angel, Entwined, Madison Cloud or Kunewini Head? Will you have a favourite sculpture that draws your gaze and captures your imagination?
Anton was born in 1954 in South Africa. As a young man, he saw a photo of Michelangelo’s The Pieta and determined that one day, he would create something equally as breathtakingly beautiful. Aged just 16, he won his first sculpture competition and in the late 1970s Anton joined the Kraft pottery studio in Pretoria. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his work was widely exhibited. In 1994, Anton reached a career highlight with a show of 35 of his sculptures in New York’s Grand Central Station. Anton is admired for the gargantuan scale of his sculptures, particularly his over-sized heads, which he creates from a range of materials including steel, metal, fibre glass and bronze.
Anton Smit’s sculptures are set within such a variety of exotic flora at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens, you may think you’re in another country! After all, it’s not every day you find giant redwood trees in the middle of Sussex. They are so tall – can you even see the tops? The estate’s lakes were originally dug out as Hammer Ponds, which were dammed streams or rivers used in the Tudor and Stuart iron industries. Their water powered a wheel, which fired a furnace to smelt iron ore. Today, the lakes provide a magnificent setting and a stunning backdrop for many of the newly installed sculptures. As you stroll around, you will probably see Emperor dragonflies, White Admiral butterflies, kites and woodpeckers ‘checking out’ their monumental new neighbours. And can you spot the estate’s famous wallabies?
The Walk of Life exhibition can be viewed seven days a week and is included in the entrance fee for Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens. A Grand Opening is planned for 16-17th September later this year.
Anton has described his work as, “driven by faith – the spiritual essence of every piece is an answer to that inner call”. Every piece in his exhibition in Sussex has travelled from South Africa and they bring their evocative themes to the exotic delights of Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens.
It’s easy to visit this extraordinary and breath-taking estate. Visit www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk to find out more.
Written by Barb Hogan, Visit Arundel
Photography: Charlie Waring